photoFinally pulled the boat today. I didn’t have any choice really. The POPYC docks are coming out Saturday and the weather is supposed to turn nasty tomorrow with rain and gusts up to 40 mph. My boat was the last one of the docks by several weeks. With the engine problems I’ve had I was worried about getting it out. The options were to put a small, spare outboard on her or try to run her at the lowest possible speed using her own engine, gears a-clattering, and hope that she’d limp into the launch without something catastrophic happening. I’d initially planned to run her to Zioli’s crude but close-by ramp but found out earlier this week that it was blocked off by wintered boats. The Lynn ramp, a mile away, exposed, and with no place to tie up, by myself without help, was out of the question. That left Tim H’s ramp a mile and a half or so up the Saugus River. It was the farthest of the three and being upriver presented an issue if I didn’t time the tides right. But it was the only option left short of a tow.

The day was nice for November, mid 50s and sunny. Wind out of the west and picking up but not too bad yet. I made it over to the slip around noon, 45 minutes before high tide. The idea of mounting the outboard as a kicker quickly proved a no-go as the transom was 2.5 inches at its narrowest point and the 8 horse I brought along wouldn’t open wider than 2.25. So that meant running upriver on the bad engine, with a chance it’d die somewhere along the way. The thought of causing serious engine damage just trying to move a boat a little over mile was not appealing. That it might also leave me victim to the wind and currents was icing on top. I didn’t like the risk but also didn’t have time to to hem and haw: the tide was near high slack and it was a BIG tide…another hour and it’d be pushing out hard to seaward, meaning I’d have to throttle up just to make headway, something I didn’t want to do given the engine problems.

So I loosed the lines and prepared to get underway. At the last moment I realized I didn’t have a life preserver aboard (I’d stripped the boat of deck gear and removed the dock box a few weeks back) so I hunted around in the club dock until I found a kid’s styrofoam boogie board. Not Coast Guard approved but in a pinch it would keep me from drowning.

Pulling out of the slip the engine showed the symptoms that made me releuctant to run it in the first place…on its own it slipped from neutral into forward, and shook and clattered. On the other hand, as it moved along, the problem didn’t get any worse. And with the tide more or less slack and no other boat traffic to contend with we passed under the General Edwards Bridge easily. The half mile to the MBTA railroad bridge was uneventful. Approaching the bridge I eyed the clearance. The eleven foot tide left me five and a half feet. Not much, but enough for my small boat.

The next and last obstacle was the 107/Western Ave Bridge another half mile ahead. This bridge had even less clearance–three feet it looked like as I approached. There’s a drawbridge there but this time of year on a weekday I wasn’t sure it’d be manned. And anyway I hadn’t brought a radio along. If the clearance was insufficient to let me pass I’d have to wait for the tide to drop. And of course with the dropping tide would be the surging current I  didn’t want to fight.

As it was I made it under with about a foot to spare, my head ducked low, looking up at the iron i-beams that even at low speed could likely cave in a skull. Five minutes later I was tied up at the dock. Another boating season over.

Next year, swear to God, one way or another I’m done with problem engines.